A beginner’s mind

I had a difficult conversation with my supervisor yesterday.
I am having difficult times in my PhD and right now, I am desperate about it. I don’t know where my motivation has gone, that blue sky is now covered by clouds of frustration and anger.
The challenge of recovery for once goes first. And I am so tired experienced the mental struggle of facing all the little voices in my head that I don’t see how I could be ready to do any experiment.
I have lost confidence and I am scared of failing. Terrified by the idea of someone telling me: “You are not good enough L. You can’t do it.”

What did he say?
A scientist must be a rock, solid, ignoring the defeated voices inside him, the noise around him. He must trust. He must be confident. He must focus and persevere.

Was it my supervisor talking or my guide?
A scientist career, like recovery, (like life!), is paved of uncertainty.

And I always try by all means to avoid uncertainty because it is the furthest away from the CONTROL that dominates my life, because there is no space for RULES to face the unknown.

A scientist approaches the unknown to find answers to his questions and to understand the world. On the way, a scientist discovers himself, his wisdom, his fears. And slowly working with uncertainty opens up to new experiences, to experiments that ultimately bring a solution. Expected or not.

A scientist does not fear the unknown because it is the unknown that brings the brightest ideas and true discoveries.

Science, like recovery, is a learning process. Two steps forward and one back. Good and bad days. Great and awful days.

Where success is build up from failures and desperation. But success’ scaffold is always comes from curiosity and excitement. About seeing the world through a little child’s lense. About seeing the world with a beginner’s mind.

It is surprising to see that in Buddhism, “unawareness” or “ignorance” means not realizing that we always have the choice. That in this second of mindfulness, with a clear beginner mind, we see all our possibilities. When we are ignorant we act impulsively and do not learn from it.
The unknown as I see it is scaring because I feel weak and exposed. Because I can’t rely on myself.
But the unknown is instead about living in a state of imprisonment in our minds. Uncertainty comes from unawareness, when the ideas are clouded and opinions and beliefs lead our actions.

Today I gave a swimming lesson and I finally saw what is a beginner’s mind and why it allows to embrace the uncertainty and the beauty of life.
A kid swimming discovers how the water feels in his skin, whether it is cold or hot. He discover how the water tastes. He discovers what it is to float and to let go in a new media. He learns that having water in the eyes makes it uncomfortable and that the world becomes blurred. He knows the smell of chlorine and can decide whether he likes it or not. He thrills on the sounds his splashing produce into the water. He laughs at the faces of those he throws the water to. He plays with his breath. How is it to be underwater and having no air. How does it feels in the nose and the ears full of water, in the mouth catho g air, in the lungs fighting for another breathe?
A kid making a puzzle applauds himself when he successfully placed one piece. He exhales joy.
A kid, when given a candy, asks for another one for his brother, for his friend. A kid is kind and compassionate.
A kid that fails, that drowns for a second, stands again.
A kid is not ashamed of giving his nude hand and asking for help.
A kid cries and forgets.
A kid forgives and wakes up everyday to new beginnings.
A kid experiences anger, fear and frustration but uses than as what they really are: emotions for change.

A kid believes his body has no limits and that some inner intuition will keep him away from danger. A kid is confident.
A kid sees every experience as a new possibility.

A kid is mesmerised when he sees hisĀ fingerprints on the ground when his fingers are wet. In that moment, he realises he has the power to draw his own path.

Let’s find our inner kid that we all once wee and still lies in us.
Let’s not fear growing up. But remembering where our roots come from: creativity, curiosity, flexibility and gratitude.

I lived in regret and pity for really long. Only recently I felt anger and frustration. Those emotions scared me. Any emotion scares me. But emotions are nothing but symptoms of our inner state and that is why we need them. They are alarms our body throws and ignoring those signs can only bring pain.
My emotions now are a ring for change and now that I am aware of their existence, I must use them as a substrate for the new direction I want to bring to my life.

A scientist needs to be calm and still. A scientist is right there in the moment, playing with the magics of the world right in front of him, phenomena that he didn’t even imagine were possible before.
Science, recovery, life are ultimately all a learning process.
In all three the biggest failure is not to try.

Paving my path in science, as I recover, totally makes sense as it is the same skills I need to develop to achieve my goals.

What do I want to be?
What am I?
A warrior and a scientist ahead on an exciting journey to discovery.

“And so, in one moment, which all other moments led up to, you can “lose your mind”, commit an irreversible act, and then experience the myriad ways in which it shapes future moments.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn


2 thoughts on “A beginner’s mind

  1. That’s fascinating how ignorance and unawareness have different meaning in Buddhism than they do in everyday language.
    “Ignorance” for us is so negative, yet it has a softer meaning in Buddhism. Buddhism always looks at things with more positivity, compassion and forgiveness than we do!


  2. Pingback: The present of being mindful | Recovery may seem hard, the alternative is worse

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